WhatsApp Being Used to Raise Protests in India

Austin Dean

2022-06-27

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The Ministry of Home Affairs of India said that WhatsApp and other apps were used to arrange protests against changes in the country’s conscription system (the so-called Agnipath scheme) and the spread of fake news. In particular, the government managed to block 35 WhatsApp groups that posted false information. Officials said that other social networks have also been used to mobilize and organize protesters.

Riots in India began on June 15th, almost immediately after the government announced changes to the conscription system. According to them, recruits can no longer enter into long-term contracts that allow them to qualify for social benefits in the future. Now only four-year agreements are available, the extension of which is possible for those who distinguished themselves during this service period (no more than 25%).

Protests swept many states, and the government even had to turn off the Internet to stabilize the situation in the Bihar region. The authorities have not only blocked some messenger groups to fight false news but also issued a special WhatsApp number by which anyone can check the information’s credibility. The officials believe that all protest events and damage to state property were organized using popular instant messengers and social networks.

The protesters vandalized railway infrastructure, set fire to the ruling party’s office, blocked some roads, and even attacked the Deputy Chief Minister. In addition to the state of Bihar, there were also riots in the Haryana and Rajasthan regions, which traditionally led to the total number of recruits. Over three days of protests, police arrested more than 600 people.

Do you follow events in the region? Do you think blocking instant messengers and turning off the Internet effectively suppress protests?

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